Climate change and buildings

Climate change is happening.

The evidence is clear. Our Earth is warming. Rising global temperatures have been accompanied by changes in weather and climate. Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet's oceans and glaciers have also experienced some big changes — oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising.

As these and other changes become more pronounced in the coming decades, they will likely present challenges to our society and our environment.

Humans are largely responsible for recent climate change.

Over the past century, human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy.

You can make a difference.

Every building and manufacturing plant, from the smallest school to the largest factory, uses energy. This energy is mostly generated by burning fossil fuels, which releases greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the buildings we see in our communities every day — offices, hospitals, schools, supermarkets, factories, and more — account for nearly 50 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

But here’s the opportunity: Much of that energy — often 30 percent or more — is wasted. Improving energy efficiency is the single largest way to eliminate this waste. It’s also the most cost effective. It’s not just an investment in equipment, but an understanding that we can all make small changes in our behavior that, when combined, can make a big difference.

Through ENERGY STAR, thousands of organizations nationwide are transforming the way they use energy every day. And they’re preventing millions of metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere while they’re at it. Competitors in EPA’s “Biggest Loser”-style energy efficiency competition cut their energy use by 30, 40, and even 60 percent in a single year! School districts and retailers are improving their efficiency by up to 30 percent across their entire portfolios.

You, too, can join the fight against climate change. Become an ENERGY STAR partner today.

Frequently asked questions